March 29, 2013
- March 30, 2012
- January 15, 2013
- July 14, 2009
- June 21, 2011
- March 30, 2012
- October 31, 2011
Brief Comparison of Cost Estimates for Mandates as Prepared by CBO and by Federal Agencies for Selected Regulatory RulesMay 20, 2011
- July 14, 2009
- June 21, 2011
Mar 2013 - Of the 428 bills CBO reviewed in 2012, 68 contained intergovernmental mandates and 80 contained private-sector mandates. Of the 202 public laws enacted, 16 contain intergovernmental mandates and 23 contain private-sector mandates.
A Review of CBO's Activities in 2011 Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
March 30, 2012
The federal government, through laws and regulations, sometimes imposes requirements—known as federal mandates—on state, local, and tribal governments and entities in the private sector in order to achieve national goals. In 1995, lawmakers enacted the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) in part to ensure that, during the legislative process, the Congress receives information about proposed federal mandates and their costs before enacting a piece of legislation.
UMRA defines a mandate as any provision in legislation that, when enacted, would do one of the following:
- Impose an enforceable duty on state, local, or tribal governments or on private-sector entities;
- Reduce or eliminate funding authorized to cover the costs of complying with existing mandates;
- Increase the stringency of conditions that apply to the provision of funds to state, local, or tribal governments through certain large mandatory programs or make cuts in federal funding for those mandatory programs if the affected governments lack the flexibility to alter the programs.
Duties that are imposed as conditions of federal assistance or that are tied to participating in voluntary federal programs generally are not considered mandates as defined in UMRA.
The law requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to prepare mandate statements for bills that are approved by authorizing committees; when requested, the agency also reviews other legislative proposals for intergovernmental and private-sector mandates. CBO found that most of the legislation the Congress considered in 2011 contained no mandates as defined in UMRA. Of the 434 bills CBO reviewed in 2011, 56 (13 percent) contained inter-governmental mandates and 67 (15 percent) contained private-sector mandates. Of the 81 public laws enacted in 2011, 12 contained intergovernmental mandates and 16 contained private-sector mandates. Many of those mandates were temporary extensions of existing mandates and were included in continuing resolutions that provided funding for federal programs until full-year appropriations were enacted.
This supplement to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) series of publications reporting on federal mandates, as defined by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, focuses on preemptions, a type of mandate that would limit the authority of state, local, or tribal governments to apply and enforce their own laws. The report discusses the nature of federal preemptions and identifies preemptive language in legislation considered by the 111th Congress; it also outlines the policy areas most affected by those proposed federal requirements and presents data about other preemptions CBO has identified since 2001.
The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to review bills approved by Congressional committees and identify federal mandates that the legislation would impose on state, local, or tribal governments. UMRA generally defines such intergovernmental mandates as enforceable duties; CBO interprets that definition as encompassing both positive (required) and negative (prohibited) duties. Some of those intergovernmental mandates take the form of preemptions—typically negative duties that prohibit state, local, or tribal governments from taking some action or that otherwise limit the authority of those governments to apply and enforce their own laws.
UMRA authorizes the use of certain legislative procedures that are designed to make it more difficult for the Congress to pass bills containing intergovernmental mandates without also providing funding to cover the mandates’ costs. In most cases, however, such hurdles are not brought into play because many mandates—even those that might significantly affect the ability of state, local, or tribal governments to exercise their authority in particular areas—would not impose duties that result in significant additional spending or loss of revenues. Such is the case with most preemptions.
During the 111th Congress (2009 and 2010), CBO issued 134 formal mandate statements that identified intergovernmental mandates. Of those, 43 percent identified preemptions—a proportion smaller than that identified in other recent Congresses, when half or more of the mandate statements that CBO issued noted preemptions. However, more preemptions were enacted during the 111th Congress than during other Congresses of the past 10 years. None of those preemptions, in CBO’s estimation, will impose costs exceeding the threshold that UMRA establishes for intergovernmental mandates. That inflation-adjusted marker, which when exceeded permits Members of Congress to invoke rules that may keep legislation from advancing, was $69 million in 2009 and $70 million in 2010.
A Review of CBO's Activities in 2010 Under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
March 31, 2011
In this report, which is part of an annual series that began in 1997, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reviews its activities under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. The report covers public laws enacted and legislation considered by the Congress in calendar year 2010 that would impose federal mandates on state, local, or tribal governments or on the private sector.
The federal government—through laws and regulations—sometimes imposes requirements on state, local, and tribal governments and entities in the private sector to achieve national goals. In 1995, the Congress passed and the President signed the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) to ensure that, during the legislative process, the Congress receives information about such proposed requirements, known as federal mandates, and their costs before enacting a piece of legislation.
UMRA defines a legislative provision as a mandate if that provision, when enacted, would
- Impose an enforceable duty on state, local, or tribal governments or on private-sector entities;
- Reduce or eliminate funding authorized to cover the costs of complying with existing mandates; or
- Increase the stringency of conditions that apply to the distribution of funds through certain mandatory programs or make cuts in federal funding for those programs, if public recipients of those funds lack flexibility to alter the programs.
Duties imposed as conditions of federal assistance or requirements tied to participating in voluntary federal programs, such as programs that require entities to have licenses for grazing livestock on federal land, generally are not considered mandates as defined in UMRA.
UMRA established procedures for providing information to the Congress about proposed federal mandates. The law requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to prepare mandate statements for bills that are approved by authorizing committees. In those statements, CBO must state whether the bill contains any mandates, address whether the direct costs of such mandates would be greater than the statutory thresholds established in UMRA, and identify any funding that the bill would provide to cover those costs. In 2010, the thresholds, which are adjusted annually for inflation, were $70 million for intergovernmental mandates and $141 million for private-sector mandates. If the total direct costs of all mandates in the bill would exceed the statutory threshold in any of the first five fiscal years in which the mandates would be in effect, CBO must provide an estimate of those costs (if feasible) and the basis of its estimate. In some cases, CBO cannot estimate the cost of a mandate—particularly when much of its impact would depend on the nature of the implementing regulations that would be promulgated by federal agencies. If CBO cannot estimate the cost of a mandate, its statement must indicate that such an estimate is not feasible and explain why.
Direct costs are defined in UMRA as amounts that the private sector or state, local, and tribal governments would be required to spend to comply with the enforceable duty, including amounts that states, localities, or tribes "would be prohibited from raising in revenues." Direct costs exclude amounts that those entities would spend to comply with applicable laws, regulations, or professional standards in effect when the federal mandate is adopted. In addition, such costs are limited to spending that would result directly from the enforceable duty imposed by the legislation rather than from the legislation's broad effects on the economy.
Not all legislation is subject to UMRA's requirements. In enacting that law, the Congress recognized that instances might arise in which budgetary considerations—such as who would bear the costs that a law might impose—should not be a key part of the debate about a legislative proposal. Thus, UMRA excludes from its procedures bills and other legislation that, for example, deal with constitutional or statutory rights, implement international treaty obligations, are necessary for national security, or alter provisions of the Social Security Act related to oldage, survivors', or disability benefits. (For further details, see Appendix A, which outlines UMRA's key provisions as they apply to CBO.)
In addition to the procedures UMRA established for providing information to the Congress, the law also lays out procedural rules for the House of Representatives and the Senate to encourage Members to take information about mandates into account when they consider legislation. Those rules are enforced through the use of points of order. A point of order can be raised in the House or Senate against the consideration of legislation if the committee reporting a bill has not published a statement by CBO on intergovernmental and private-sector mandates. In addition, Members of Congress may raise a point of order against legislation that seeks to impose an intergovernmental mandate whose costs exceed the threshold, unless the legislation authorizes or provides funding to cover those costs. If a point of order is raised under UMRA, each chamber resolves the issue according to its established rules and procedures.
CBO prepares a mandate statement for most of the legislation considered by the Congress. In most cases, that statement is prepared after a committee has approved legislation but before the legislation has been considered on the floor of the House or the Senate. Upon request, the agency also provides mandate statements for proposed floor amendments and some conference reports. In some instances, though, as noted in the tables in this report, CBO does not review a mandate before its enactment. That situation may occur when legislation is passed without being considered by a committee; when, after CBO's review, a bill is amended on the floor or in conference to include a provision that contains a mandate; or, in some cases, when a mandate is included in one of the appropriation bills, which CBO does not routinely review for mandates because UMRA does not apply to such bills.
The number of bills or other legislative proposals that contain mandates and the number of individual mandates that appear in proposed legislation generally differ. Because the House and the Senate may consider the same or similar mandates in more than one piece of legislation, the number of bills that contain mandates can exceed the number of individual mandates considered by the Congress in any given year. Conversely, because one bill may contain several mandates, the number of mandates can exceed the number of bills.
The tables in this report identify mandates in public laws enacted during calendar year 2010 and in other legislation considered by the Congress in 2010:
- Table 1 is a tally of mandates in public laws enacted between 2006 and 2010.
- Table 2 is a tally of the mandate statements CBO transmitted between 2006 and 2010.
- Tables 3 and 4 list laws enacted in 2010 that contain intergovernmental and privatesector mandates, respectively.
- Tables 5 and 6 list intergovernmental and private-sector mandates, respectively, that CBO reviewed in 2010 whose costs would exceed UMRA's thresholds or could not be determined.
- Tables 7 and 8 list the bills and proposals CBO reviewed in 2010 that contained intergovernmental and private-sector mandates, respectively.
All of the data in this report are for calendar years. (Although data for spending and receipts in the budget are presented for fiscal years, which run from October 1 through September 30, Congressional legislative sessions generally follow the calendar year; thus, data on CBO's cost estimates and mandate statements are presented as calendar year totals.)
Most of the legislation considered by the Congress in 2010 contained no mandates as defined in UMRA. Of the 474 bills and other legislative proposals reviewed by CBO, 14 percent (64 bills) contained intergovernmental mandates and 18 percent (85 bills) contained privatesector mandates. Moreover, most of the mandates that CBO examined in 2010 would not have imposed costs that exceeded the annual thresholds set by UMRA. Less than 1 percent (3 bills) had intergovernmental mandates with costs higher than the $70 million annual threshold, and 1 percent (7 bills) had mandates whose costs could not be determined. Similarly, CBO estimated that only about 3 percent (14) of the bills reviewed by CBO in 2010 contained private-sector mandates that would have imposed costs greater than the $141 million annual threshold. For 5 percent (23 bills), CBO could not determine whether the costs of their mandates would have exceeded the private-sector threshold.
Similarly, in the 15 years since the enactment of UMRA, most of the legislation considered by the Congress contained no mandates. Of the roughly 8,500 bills and other legislative proposals that CBO reviewed between 1996 and 2010, about 13 percent contained intergovernmental mandates, and about 16 percent contained private-sector mandates (see Figure 1). Also during that period, about 1 percent of the bills contained intergovernmental mandates whose aggregate costs exceeded the annual threshold established in UMRA, and less than 1 percent had aggregate costs that could not be estimated. For private-sector mandates, about 4 percent of the bills contained mandates with aggregate costs above the annual threshold, and 2 percent contained mandates whose aggregate costs to the private sector could not be estimated.
Two public laws enacted in 2010 contained intergovernmental mandates—a total of 7 mandates—with costs that CBO estimates will exceed the statutory threshold: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296). In the 15 years since the enactment of UMRA, only 13 new laws have contained intergovernmental mandates with costs estimated to exceed the threshold.
Over the 15-year period, legislation enacted by the Congress generally contained more private-sector mandates than intergovernmental mandates. Eleven public laws enacted in 2010 contained private-sector mandates—a total of 25 mandates—with costs estimated to exceed the statutory threshold. Those laws included changes to the health care system and regulation of financial institutions, among others. Since 1996, CBO has identified private-sector mandates with costs estimated to exceed the threshold in 75 public laws.